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Ringing endorsement

Most healthy growing businesses operate with a relatively high degree of

proactivity. By this, I mean they are not depending on requests for goods

or services from existing customers but generating business from existing

customers and developing new customer relationships.

Doing more business with existing customers is properly regarded by most

businesses – and financial services is no exception – as the most effective

source of new revenues. After all, once you have expended time on

developing a relationship, the route to doing further business should be

shorter than it would be to do the same business with a new customer.

Securing a greater “share of wallet” is a key objective of most financial

services businesses. Given that most clients of financial advisers are also

clients or potential clients of other financial institutions, building and

sustaining competitive advantage is essential. One of the ways of doing

this is to be proactive.

In a busy, highly regulated and demanding business (yes, I am talking about

financial services) there is precious little time to be proactive, so most

people in the business have little opportunity to exercise their

proactivity muscles. Against this background, those who do will definitely

stand out.

So how do you best get proactive as a financial adviser? Well, the

business of giving financial advice is substantially about having the right

balance of many things, including knowledge, understanding of clients&#39

needs and the range of subjects and contexts in which advice is given,

confidence, effective communication and implementation skills, to name a

few. Of all these, proactivity has its source in knowledge and

understanding and is directly evidenced by communication.

New knowledge is undoubtedly the primer of the proactivity pump and, among

so much bad news, the good news in financial services is that there is

rarely a shortage of stuff to talk about. The current time is no exception.

We have just had the pre-Budget report, the Green Paper on pension reform

and the commencement of the consultation process on the changes to the tax

regime for pensions. Add to this the continuing need to communicate with

clients about investment values and markets and, where relevant, property

values and investment, and you are spoilt for choice on what to communicate


One fairly simple approach is to segment your client base by age,

priority/interest, business/employment status or any other method that is

appropriate and then communicate with them on relevant changes or proposals

in whichever way you prefer.

For investment clients, the likely changes to the taxation of offshore

funds (as well as an investment review) may be something to talk about.

The possible changes to the rules on domicile and possibly residence may be

the spark needed to communicate with any of your clients who are non-UK

resident or non-UK domiciled. Alternatively, you might care to target

accountants specialising in advising this type of client.

Those into employee benefits will no doubt wish to review planning

following the changes to the tax treatment of contributions to employee

trusts involving the denial of relief until a qualifying taxable payment is


In all this talk of the savings gap (is it £27bn or £40bn?), we

should not forget the protection gap, exposed as £2trn by Swiss Re in

its excellent recent insurance report. If there is not scope for

proactivity there, where is there?

Just those few subjects should be enough for effective communication across

a wide range of client categories, let alone other professional advisers

with whom you need to satisfy the best adviser test.

Now picture Bob Hoskins and… “It&#39s good to talk.”


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